As the country gears up to mark this year’s Armed Forces and Remembrance Day Celebration tomorrow, 15 January – a day set aside to celebrate the gallantry, patriotism, loyalty and sacrifice of officers and men of the Nigerian military, we are called upon to take deeper reflections on its significance.
Since its institutionalization, the Nigerian Armed Forces establishment has remained an indispensable institution which has played unquantifiable role in the preservation of Nigeria’s corporate entity and sovereign nation.
From its role in projecting Nigeria as key contributor to world peace through participation in peacekeeping operations across the world, to performing its constitutional obligation of defending the country from external aggression and acting in aid of civil authority to wage battle against internal security challenges, the Nigerian Armed Forces has remained true to its nationalistic calling.
Like many other countries of the world, Nigeria is confronted with the multiplicity of internal security challenges that are threatening her peace, stability and economic growth. Never in the history has Nigeria been so buffeted with the multiplicity of internal security challenges, ranging from terrorism to banditry, herdsmen-farmers’ clashes, kidnapping, armed robbery, separatist agitation, attacks on maritime assets, and sundry violent crimes as they are happening now.
In all of these serious security challenges that have posed threats to national security, who else but the gallant Nigerian Armed Forces are called upon to protect Nigerians and defend the sovereignty of Nigeria? Who else are on the harm’s way taking bullets on our behalf if not our gallant troops? Who else than our gallant Armed Forces are in the trenches, in the air and in deep waters, keeping watch over our sovereignty? Not even during the civil war, has our Armed Forces been so stretched with the task of providing internal security assistance to the point of deploying troops to about 34 of the 36 states in the country, as is the case today.
Thanks to the Nigerian military for being able to contend with the relentless hydra-headed monster of insecurity that is so determined to destroy the peace and stability of our country. Thanks to our brave officers and men who have laid down their lives in defence of our country from fierce enemies and brutal adversaries.
Thanks to our patriotic military that recognize their constitutional obligation of protecting our democracy and defending our sovereignty. Thanks to our gallant military for not shirking their onerous responsibility right from the commencement of offensive against the Nigerian state by the Boko Haram terrorists, cross-border bandits and other enemies of our country.
Many members of the Armed Forces have laid down their lives in pursuit of global peace; many paid the ultimate price in the fight against terrorism, banditry and in defending our country from other violent criminals.
Many others have lost their limbs or have been maimed for life; many young families of military personnel have been thrown into mourning and sorrow; many more soldiers are still in harm’s way, doing all they could to defend and protect us from those who seek to destroy us.
To these, Nigerian people owe them a world of debt, debt of gratitude, and on this auspicious occasion, we are called upon to celebrate and honour our departed heroes and heroines, and to pray for the repose of their souls. We are called to remember families, relations, loved ones and those who daily bear the pain and deprivation of their absence.
The solemnity of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day compels us to reflect on the fact that the war against enemies of our country is not a battle for our soldiers alone. All of us men and women of goodwill have a role to play in the defence of our dear country. What our military and all other agencies that are engaged in the war against terror and other internal security operations across the country need at this moment are unflinching solidarity, support and cooperation.
As citizens, we must ensure that their morale is boosted and their fighting spirit up at all times. That is the least we owe our patriotic and dutiful members of Nigerian Armed Forces.
*Chidi Omeje is the Editor-in-Chief, Security Digest (www.securitydigestng.com)